Shawwal: What To Do On Eid Night, Eid Day, And During The Month?
Beginning of the Ashur-ul-Hajj
Shawwal is the first of the three months named “Ashhur al-Hajj” (i.e. the months of Hajj). Although the major acts of Hajj are normally performed in the first ten days of Zulhijjah, the whole period starting from the first of Shawwal up to the 10th of Zulhijjah is held to be the period of Hajj because some acts of Hajj can be performed any time during this period. For example, the Tawaf-ul-qudum, followed by the Sai’ of Hajj cannot be performed before Shawwal, while it can be performed any day after the beginning of Shawwal. Similarly, an ‘Umrah performed before Shawwal cannot be treated as the ‘Umrah of Tamattu: while the ‘Umrah performed in Shawwal can be affiliated to the Hajj, making it a Hajj of Tamattu: Moreover, the ihram of Hajj should not be started before Shawwal, because it makruh. For these reasons these three months have been named the ‘months of Hajj’ and the month of Shawwal has the distinction of being the first of these.
The second meritorious aspect of Shawwal is that it has been chosen by Allah Almighty for the celebration of “Eid-ul-Fitr”, one of the only two annual festivals recognized by the Shari’ah. This happy day is designed by the Shari’ah as a sign of gratefulness by the Muslims for the accomplishment of Ramadan and as an immediate reward by Allah for those who spent the month of Ramadan fasting and performing other forms of ‘ibadah.
Instead of commemorating an event from the past, the Shari’ah has prescribed the first of Shawwal as an annual festival for the Muslims at an occasion when they themselves accomplish a great ‘ibadah. This approach reminds the Muslims that they should not rely only on the accomplishments of their ancestors, rather, they should themselves perform meritorious acts to please their Creator.
In prescribing the ways to celebrate a happy day, Islam has adopted another unique approach. The festivals of other religions or nations normally comprise some acts of rejoicing and enjoyment. The whole happy day is normally spent dancing, singing, and playing.
In contrast, Islam has prescribed a simple yet graceful way to observe a happy day. First of all, it is mandatory for all the well-off Muslims to start their day by paying “Sadaqat-ul-Fitr” to the poor of their society, so that they, too, may enjoy the day along with others, and may not be worried about earning their livelihood at least on that day of happiness.
After paying the “Sadaqat-ul-fitr”, the Muslims are required to proceed to an open place where they can offer the Eid prayer collectively. In this way, they are supposed to present themselves before their Creator and offer two rak’ats of this special type of Salah, which makes them receive blessings from Allah and start their celebration with these divine blessings.
After the Salah also, they are supposed to rejoice in the day in a responsible manner, without violating the limits prescribed for them and never indulging in the acts prohibited by Allah.
Keeping this point in view, we will now discuss specific rules prescribed for observing the day of Eid-ul-fitr.
The Night Preceding ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’
It had been the practice of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, that he would not sleep in the night preceding the day of Eid-ul-Fitr. This night has been named in a Hadith as the Night of Reward (Lailatul Jaiza). Almighty bestows his rewards on those who have spent the month of Ramadan abiding by the dictates of Shari’ah, and all their prayers on this night are accepted. Therefore, it is desirable to perform nafl prayers on this night. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, is reported to have said:
Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two Eids expecting rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die. (Ibn Majah)
To benefit from this opportunity, one should perform as much worship on this night as he can, and should pray for all his needs and desires.
Before Going to Eid Prayer
The following acts are prescribed as Sunnah at the beginning of the day of ‘Eid-ul-Fitr before proceeding to the Eid prayer:
1. To wake up early in the morning.
2. To clean one’s teeth with a Miswaak or a brush.
Khutbah: The Address of ‘Eid-ul-fitr
In this Salah, Khutbah is a Sunnah and is delivered after the Salah, unlike the Salah of Jumu’ah where it is Fard and is delivered before the Salah. However, listening to the Khutbah of ‘Eid Salah is wajib or necessary and must be heard in perfect peace and silence.
It is a sunnah that the Imam begins the first Khutba by reciting takbirs ‘Allahu Akbar’ nine times and the second Khutbah by reciting it seven times.
Six Fasts in the Month of Shawwal
It is commendable to keep six fasts in the month of Shawwal. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said:
Whoever completes the fasts of Ramadan then adds to them the fast of six days in the month of Shawwal, it will carry the thawab of fasting for the whole year. (Sahih Muslim)
This hadith had described the great thawab of six fasts of this month. Therefore, the Muslims should take this opportunity of acquiring such an enormous reward from Allah. It is preferable to start these fasts from the 2nd of Shawwal and keep fasting up to the 7th of it. However, if, they are kept on other days, it is hoped that the requirement of the above hadith may also be fulfilled.